Learning@75: How NEP can create future-ready Indians

It can take the youth onto the lifelong-learning path.

education, India
India is home to the world’s largest youth population, and to achieve its $5-trillion economy target, it must empower its youth with accurate resources and hands-on education.

By Mayank Kumar

The 75th year of Independence is perhaps the last chance for the country to seize the opportunity that the Fifth Industrial Revolution offers. It requires a skilled workforce that is ready to counter modern-day business challenges and drive results.

That’s where lifelong learning becomes important, and the first step towards that has been taken by the National Education Policy 2020 (NEP), which has paved the way for behavioural change that is required to discard ‘habitual’ and ‘clerical’ education and welcome a more systematic, scientific learning curriculum.

The NEP has replaced the antiquated 10+2 framework at the school level with a new pedagogical structure of 5+3+3+4 that includes learners from the ages of 3 to 18, thereby covering four stages of learning: foundational, preparatory, middle and secondary. The NEP has brought outcome-driven knowledge to the forefront over rote learning.

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The NEP has also introduced experiential learning—hands-on learning, arts-integrated and sports-integrated education, and story-telling-based pedagogy. It extricates India’s learning culture from one-dimensional, rigid and fixed subject comprehension and allows one to explore relations between subjects and find analogies. The NEP endorses multidisciplinary, multilingualism, conceptual understanding, vital creative and critical thinking—these can be termed as ‘power skills’ as these enhance one’s ability to comprehend situations meaningfully and help improve self-confidence.

No hard divisions between streams like humanities, natural sciences and commerce is a much-needed change under the NEP and can help improve students’ cognitive abilities and analytical aptitude. There will also be no rigid separation between arts and sciences, between curricular and extracurricular activities, and between vocational and academic streams. Needless to say, this shall take the youth onto the lifelong-learning path by empowering them with the right set of opportunities to make sound decisions as per their career aspirations and evolving job scenario.

The gross enrolment ratio (GER) in higher education is expected to rise from 26.3% in 2018 to 50% by 2035, as stated by education minister Dharmendra Pradhan recently.

To promote lifelong learning, the NEP has introduced Academic Bank of Credits (ABC) proposal that is supposed to enable students to accrue credits for various courses and subsequently transfer those credits to their academic bank. This is set to accelerate academic mobility amongst students, readying them for Industry 5.0 (which seeks to foster a more balanced working relationship between increasingly smart technologies and humans).

India is home to the world’s largest youth population, and to achieve its $5-trillion economy target, it must empower its youth with accurate resources and hands-on education.

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There is a clear mismatch between the jobs available and the youth with the required skills for such jobs. A significant number of future jobs will be unpredictable and will require a different set of skills than those displayed by most graduates today. Countries are faced with an unprecedented challenge of reimagining and overhauling outdated education systems built for another era, typically for the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century, states an industry report. It highlights that about 65% of children entering primary school today will end up working in a job that doesn’t yet exist.

As we complete 75 years of Independence and ready ourselves for the next 25, this is truly ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’ when we are able to fuel our potential through a complete reboot of the education system, redefine how higher education should be seen and attained, and made a part of the socioeconomic growth process. The key to being a truly Atmanirbhar Bharat is to strengthen and empower the nation through quality education.

The author is co-founder & MD, upGrad. Views are personal

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